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25 Moments that Mattered in 2015: To make our selection of 25 moments, we thought back to the stories that drove reader engagement and sparked discussion among both travel experts and the general public. Some stories were quick blips that represented bigger things while others were narratives that built slowly through out the year. Each one, though, spoke to where we are right now when it comes to the big business of global travel.

Some company was going to buy Starwood in the near future. It was simply a matter of which one.

While the media — including us — was focused on Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels, and Chinese conglomerates, Marriott snuck in and grabbed the rudderless Starwood for a cool $12.2 billion.

The purchase gives Marriott 30 brands to play with, as well as big shares of big markets like New York, where the combined group now controls 60% of rooms. It also gives Marriott the Starwood Preferred Guest program, arguably the hotel world’s most innovative loyalty plan. In the coming months we’re likely to see the combined Marwood (or is it Starriott?) shed brands, expand its Washington, D.C.-area base, and begin figuring out how to work all the moving parts in the new 900-pound gorilla of the hotel world. Expect severe growing pains.

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Tags: 25 moments 2015, marriott, marwood, starwood

Photo credit: Starwood Hotels W Hollywood hotel logo in Los Angeles. Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

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